OFFSEASON

Wilcox 'not ready, not comfortable' enough to return yet

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Wilcox 'not ready, not comfortable' enough to return yet

BOSTON -- Chris Wilcox has waited long enough.

The Boston Celtics big man underwent season-ending heart surgery in March and watched his teammates fight for a title from courtside seats.

After months of rehab, he re-signed with the Celtics this summer and was poised to make his comeback. However, his return has been delayed due to back spasms.

"I'm not ready, I'm not comfortable right now," he said prior to Tuesday's preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets. "When my strength and my conditioning get where they need to be, then I'm going to get back out there. I don't want to go back out there too early and then sit out again. I want to make sure this time when I come back, I'm ready."

Wilcox's comeback will be a process. He is currently able to exercise on the treadmill, do light lifting, and recently returned to basketball activities. He also receives a bevy of treatments, from stim to heat packs, stretching to massages.

"You name it, I'm getting it," he said.

Wilcox underwent an MRI following the Celtics return from Europe, but cannot undergo any more at this time because his body was exposed to radiation with previous tests for his heart.

While his patience will pay off in the long run, it is challenging for him to continue playing the waiting game. He has not suited up since March 7. Now he joins his teammates on the bench, knowing he will not be able to step on to the court just yet.

"The hardest part right now is just sitting out watching," said Wilcox, continuing, "The main thing is just being around the game, being around the guys is like motivation to just keep me going. It's tough when I'm not around and I don't see it, then I have to see it on TV.

"It's better just to be around the guys because it kind of keeps my mind off of just sitting around and things like that. But it's definitely tough for me. I want to be out there. I think I've been watching long enough."

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

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Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

All the free-agent focus on the Celtics has been on players -- Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard -- who they might bring in. But they have players they might lose, too.

One, of course, is Evan Turner, who's an unrestricted free agent, free to sign to anyone after July 1. But they also have two others, Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger, who could have joined Turner on the completely open market if they didn't tender them qualifying offers.

Yesterday, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, they did just that:

Zeller and Sullinger are still free to solicit offers. But, because they made the qualifying offers, the Celtics have the right to match any deal the two might receive and keep them in Boston.

OFFSEASON

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

BOSTON -- In some circles the pursuit of Dwight Howard by the Boston Celtics is just as perplexing as Boston being one of the six teams getting an audience with Kevin Durant and, with that, a shot at the Durant sweepstakes this summer. 
 
Both serve as examples of how the Celts are no longer at the back of the line when it comes to being a potential destination for the best free agents. 
 
Of course it’s about sealing the deal, and getting the best free agents on the market under contract, and all that good stuff.
 
But before that can happen, Boston has to be seen as a place to even be seriously considered by free agents. That's exactly what we’re starting to see happen right now.
 
It’s easy to point to the Celtics having a ton of salary cap space, which in itself makes them a possible landing spot for players who we all know will be hauling in max to near-max salaries this offseason.
 
But there’s just one problem with that line of thought. More than half the league enters free agency with enough money to sign one max player.

The fact that Boston is on the short list for the summer’s top free agent (Durant) and have already secured a sit-down with one of the top centers (Howard) says a lot in terms of how far Boston has come in the eyes of players. 
 
And several factors point towards the Celtics getting an audience with other top-shelf free agents this summer if they fail to secure one or two of their top choices.
 
But let’s not kid ourselves. How others view this franchise is the reality of what the Celtics have to deal with when it comes to adding elite, upper-echelon talent like Durant. 
 
The fact that Durant is willing to include Boston in his short-list of teams is a bit of a head-scratcher when you see that the Celtics are the farthest away from the group in terms of competing for an NBA title (although an argument can be made that they are neck-and-neck with the Miami Heat along those lines). Durant has said in the past that would be something he would be looking for in whatever team he signed with.
 
The biggest selling point the Celtics have to offer Durant or any other free agent (besides money) is that they are a franchise on the rise, they have stability on the floor with Brad Stevens as the head coach, and they have stability in the front office with Danny Ainge. Both Stevens and Ainge signed long-term extensions earlier this month. 
 
And one of the perks that players who come to Boston quickly discover is the fan base, which is about as rabid a group as you'll find in the NBA.
 
There’s no mistaking they wear their emotions on their sleeves, whether it’s cheering the team on following a season-ending playoff loss, or booing the owner after the team makes a draft pick they don’t particularly care for. 
 
They bleed green!
 
Add all those things up and it’s clear that Boston has the kind of environment, the kind of culture, where a star can come and thrive. 
 
The Celtics and their fans have known this for a while.
 
Now it seems some of the game’s best players are starting to catch on, as well.

OFFSEASON

Is it curious that Kevin Durant is even giving the Celtics an audience?

Is it curious that Kevin Durant is even giving the Celtics an audience?

Mike Felger, Dan Shaughnessy and Glenn Ordway wonder why the Celtics are even getting a meeting with Kevin Durant when free agency begins. Does it mean they have a legitimate chance of signing him?